ASTM D4332 Standard Practice for Conditioning Containers, Packages, or Packaging Components for Testing

The scope of ASTM D4332 testing is to provide standard, special conditioning, and testing atmospheres that may be used to simulate field conditions. The field conditions are meant to mimic the conditions that the container, package, or packaging will encounter. ASTM D4332 is used to condition a package prior to the desired testing. It is commonly used for conditioning when conducting transit simulation tests. ASTM D4332 describes the procedures for conditioning so that the test material reaches equilibrium with the atmosphere that they will be exposed to.

When temperature and humidity vary, many materials that are used to make containers and packages will change physical shape. Due to this, the package should be kept in a consistent atmosphere for an amount of time that will produce reproductible physical properties that can be measured. The conditions that are chosen can either be an historically accepted standard or special laboratory condition. Special conditions are not necessarily actual field conditions. However, they simulate field conditions in such a way that the effects on packages and materials will be related to actual field performance.

It is important to try to be as accurate and effective as possible when measuring temperature and relative humidity. Measurements must be taken as close to the test specimen as possible. Note that temperature and relative humidity may be different at various spots within the conditioned space. Lack of air circulation could cause conditions to be different for the controller than the specimen.

ASTM D4332 requires four testing apparatuses.

  1. Room (or cabinet)- This apparatus must be adequate in size so that the sample specimen can be individually exposed to circulating air of the specified conditions.
  2. Control Apparatus- This is used to maintain the required/specified temperature and relative humidity conditions throughout the room, keeping within the tolerance limits.
  3. Hygrometer- The hygrometer is used to measure relative humidity. This apparatus should be accurate to +/- 2 % relative humidity. A psychrometer may also be used for direct measurement of relative humidity or to test the hygrometer.
  4. Thermometer- The thermometer is used to measure temperature. Any temperature measuring device can be used given that it can accurately measure the temperature within 0.1°C or 1.2° Again, a psychrometer (dry-bulb thermometer) may be used for direct measurement or to test the thermometer.

ASTM has provided a procedure that must be followed when conditioning under ASTM D4332.

Obtain containers, packages, or packaging components. The number of samples that are required for conditioning will be determined by the number required for testing. These samples may require preconditioning if they are made of materials (such as fiberboard) that are affected by changes in humidity greater than 40%. Any packages sealed with an aqueous adhesive should be sealed well in advance so that the water in the adhesive will not affect conditioning. The test specimen should then be placed in the conditioning chamber (room). The package must remain in the room for the amount of time that is required by the particular test procedure. In the event that a test does not specify a period of time the specimen should remain exposed to conditions for at least 72 hours, or until the time required to reach equilibrium (can be shorter or longer than 72 hours). The package should be supported in such a way that all surfaces have exposure to the conditioning atmosphere. If possible, the test should be performed within the specified conditioning atmosphere. However, if this is not possible, then the test should be performed immediately after the specimen is removed from the conditioning atmosphere. Finally, the test facility will provide a comprehensive report, outlined by ASTM D4332 standards.

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